Picture this scenario. It is Friday night, you’ve had a long week, and you’d like nothing better than to order in from your favorite food delivery service. The only problem is your food never arrives. You go to the website to report the non-delivery and are put on hold for over five minutes. When you finally get a customer service agent, she delivers a scripted apology and asks you standardized diagnostic questions. You ask if the company can replace the order and the agent asks you to hold while she researches the answer. When she returns, she informs you that she cannot replace the order, but offers to cancel it and process your refund immediately.
After you get off the phone, you look for the confirmation email the agent said she would send, but the the email is a no-show, so you contact the company again. This time, you bypass the touchtone phone system and five-minute hold and opt for an online chat instead. After three minutes, an agent gets on and informs you that he can give you a credit for the lost order or a refund, but the refund will take 5-7 days to process.
Do the long wait times, scripted responses, and conflicting information of this scenario sound familiar? If you answered yes, you’re not alone. According to Consumer Reports, unresponsive and disconnected service and inaccurate information are top complaints when it comes to a poor customer experience. What’s more, negative customer experiences can be costly. In fact, 32% of consumers will take their business to another company after just one bad experience.
Recent research makes it clear that a great experience is the key to keeping customers happy and that effective communication is a cornerstone of a great customer experience. However, CSRs often fight a losing battle when it comes to resolving customer issues because they lack the training and tools to deliver the timely, personalized, and relevant customer communication that consumers want. To provide a superior customer experience, companies should adopt a communication strategy that is customer and design-centric, holistic, collaborative, and adaptable. By adopting these five principles, you can turn your CSRs into CX powerhouses.
- Customer-centric Communications
Getting formulaic or scripted communications is the last thing customers need when they’re experiencing issues with a service. On the other hand, standardized communications can simplify everyday transactions and make the customer experience more efficient. When implementing a communication solution, you want to be able to move seamlessly from batch communications to personalized correspondence based on your customers’ needs. A solution that can generate ad hoc communications on the fly in parallel with batch processing for standard or mandated correspondence offers the versatility to provide customer-centered communications.
- End to end Customer Journey
Too often, companies look at customer experience as a series of disconnected interactions. The question about an unexpected charge is viewed in isolation from the onboarding the customer completed when they signed up six months ago. The reality is that customer experience evolves on a continuum. Each interaction a customer has with your company adds to their cumulative impression of your products, your brand, and your culture. Adopting a holistic view of customer communications means choosing a solution that streamlines and integrates every step of the customer journey from the initial inquiry to onboarding and post-purchase retention. The ideal solution should be able to capture registration information, generate contracts, and deliver onboarding materials with lightning fast turnaround. For some transactions, this means the entire process is completed in a matter of seconds, not days or weeks.
- Design thinking
A core tenet of design-centric thinking is empathizing with users’ needs. Increasingly, customers access their communications through a variety of media so incorporating mobile optimization and multi-channel delivery into your communication solution will ensure that customers receive their correspondence in their preferred format.
Your communication solution must also address the needs of CSRs. For employees serving on the frontlines of customer service, having a communication solution that is intuitive and easy to use is imperative. The interface and layout should be simple and functional as well as aesthetically pleasing. A communication solution with drop-down menus and drag-and-drop functionality allows CSRs to generate personalized communications without having to learn a complex new system or rely on IT to make simple changes, while ensuring that content stays on message and consistent with your brand.
Customer service channels that are disconnected lead to siloed CSRs and inaccurate information. To encourage collaboration, make sure your communication solution provides access to templates, images, and other assets from a centralized repository. Use automated workflows and role-based permissions to streamline and shorten approval cycles and make sure the right people touch your communications at the right time.
True collaboration goes beyond internal communication between CSRs and other departments. Increasingly, businesses operate in a complex digital ecosystem that integrates with a variety of solutions, including social media apps like WeChat, e-commerce technology, and digital e-signature tools. For organizations making the transition to a digital customer communications solution, choosing a platform that closely adheres to the latest cloud-native standards can give you a critical edge over your competitors and deliver best-in-class customer experiences.
- Real-time Adaptation
Adaptability is a critical component of customer and design-centered communication. Adopting a communication solution with live preview allows CSRs to catch errors before correspondence goes out the door and gives them the flexibility to provide personalized attention to your customers. Dashboards give users complete visibility into the content lifecyle, from checking on the status of a job to auditing system activity and managing changes. This visibility allows stakeholders to make predictive estimates about when jobs will be completed, identify potential bottlenecks, and resolve issues before they become problems.
These principles may address different components of your communication strategy, but they all place the customer at the heart of the journey. By empowering your CSRs to communicate effectively, you will make your customers your greatest advocates, even when your best-laid plans go awry.